Tag Archives: traveling with kids

MOM Camp Day 9: The 23 hour journey home…

This was NOT meant to be an official day of Mom Camp.  In fact, today was the day we were meant to wake up in own beds with our snuggly dogs and get back to Mom Camp at home instead of on the road.  So much for that plan.

We arrived at Louis Armstrong Airport around 2:00pm–well in advance of our departure at 5:30pm.  No sense in taking chances these days with TSA screening lines and increased security after terrorist attacks.

Things turned ugly as soon we finished a rather hurried dunch (dinner/lunch).  I know some people prefer the idea of linner. I happy for people to comment on their preference between dunch and linner below.

Thunderstorms in Dallas meant our flight was canceled and there was no way to get to Las Vegas until the following day.  The Captain was less than happy…

Okay, it was off to a Garden Inn to watch a James Bond marathon and eat snack food from the 24 hour sundries shop.  At least, the Bondathon helped somewhat.

The kids still behaves well and I even offered to take them to the pool.  But, microwave popcorn, starburst and M&Ms seemed to be enough to keep them undercontrol.

Sadly, the following day did not get much better.. Before we even left the hotel room at 6:00am, I was getting text alerts that our 10:10 flight from DFW to LAS was delayed to 11:40am.  Things got worse from there…


AAXXX Departs DFW 12:30P Gate A13

Arrives LAS 1:19P Gate D10

WiFi avail onboard

Reply HELP for Help

Reply STOP to Cancel

Okay now it was a 12:30 departure, then it was a gate change. The next text of doom was:


AAXXXX Departs DFW 1:15P Gate A13

Arrives LAS 2:04P Gate D10

WiFi avail onboard

Reply HELP for Help

Reply STOP to Cancel

It was at this point that Cinco and I began walking through the airport.  We developed a game where we set a timer and went as fast as we could for 15 minutes.  After the 15 mins, I checked the paces on my upband–which I love–.  Our best score was .9 miles in 15 minutes.  Considering we were darting between other travelers, elderly in wheelchairs and mini-motorized courtesy carts, I think we did pretty well.

It was as we were playing this game for the 3rd time (and, yes that would mean we walked up and down the airport corridors for 45mins) that was saw the 11:40am flight depart.  The jealously and frustration were boiling over…  Why?  Why? Did we have to be booked on the loser delayed flight?  I rushed the counter to try and get us on standby–  but there were already 8 lucky souls infront of us and nothing we would do…

Through all this the kids remained pleasant and friendly with almost no fighting.  The Captain however was none to happy.

The terror struck! We boarded the plane and SAT!!!  There is truly nothing more horrible than being trapped on the airplane while you just sit on a tarmac.  It is sooooooo painful.

Finally, the plane took off and got home 23 hours after 1st arriving at Louis Armstrong Airport.  Talk about a long day.

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Ashford Castle: MCD 9

This would prove to be an especially exciting day!  We awoke in the castle and headed down to the formal dining room to have our breakfast complete with hot chocolate for the kiddos.  At breakfest we met the boat captain who offers tours of the lake and he talked us into a delighful one hour boat tour.  We had to be back on shore by noon sharp because we had a special appointment at 12:30.

Castle View from the Boat

  The tour lasted an hour and The Princess even got a chance to steer the ship.  Those of you who have watched John Ford and John Wayne’s Quite Man will recognize the name Inisfree! 

The next stop was the school of falconry.

The Captain it would be cool if we scheduled our own falconry lesson for the family. While I personally wouldn’t have chosen this activity, I wasn’t against the idea and booked it.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences of the whole trip.

We worked with Red Tail Hawks, not Falcons.   It seems these hocks do better with people they don’t know because unlike

Just a little something the birds caught

Just a little something the birds caught

Falcons and most other birds of prey the Red Tails hunt in groups.  Another funny thing about this bird, is that it’s from the American Southwest not Ireland. And when we got home to America and we’re visiting the Las Vegas Springs preserve we actually saw a plaque about the Redtailed Hawk!

Our guide was delightful and gave us an almost 90 minute course on the Hawks, other birds, and falconry in general. He was truly passionate about the subject and a delight with which to work.

me and the hawk

Everyone (both Cinco and The Princess) held the hawks and took a turn sending them out to hunt.  I think the kiddos were a little nervous at first, but they never shied away from the birds even one.  The hawks were named after famous Irish writers– Wilde and Stoker.  Our guide told them apart based on the color of their claws (something I never really got the hang of in our 90 minute lesson.)

Post hawking it was time for a walk of the grounds.  IMG_1881  Including a number of hidden gardens.

Next stop was a stroll into town for a little something to eat.  A pretty good day, I’d say

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Leaving Galway we decided to make a stop by Athenry before heading to Ashford Castle.  Like any good Irish family, we are fans of the song Fields of Athenry.  The Captain and The Princess often play the song on the guitar and sing together.  With a little extra time on our hands we decided a trip to Athenry was in order.

Athenry Castle

We toured the castle… Which really wasn’t much compared to other castles in England and Ireland. And we tried to go to the Athenry priory.  But, it was closed.

Then it was on to Cong home of Ashford Castle and the town were some of the John Ford film The Quite Man was filmed.

In Cong there are a number of deep caves and caverns.  We decided on a nature walk before checking in at the castle.  Our first stop was Pigeonhole Cave.

view looking up from the bottom of the cave

We also took the Pigeonhole Cave walking loop–without the actually researching how long the loop was!  It seemed to simply never end.  It was alively walk in the woods along a stream, but the kiddos started to get a bit grousey after the 1st 45 minutes.

One bonus was the path lead us to Cong Abbey. It was located right on the river and the ruins included an old stone fishing house the monks used.

Cong Abbey cloister ruins

When we finally made it back to our car it was time to head out to Ahford Castle!

The castle welcomed us with personalized cookies and tour.  After discovering welcome gifts for the kids (a bear for The Princess and a sword for Cinco), we set work exploring…


The Billard Room


watching Ben Hur in the movie room

After dinner in the Dungeon it was bedtime for all!


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Mom Camp Day 22: Saying Good-Bye to Britain

Finally, it was time for our trip to end. Both Cinco and I weren’t ready for it to end. I was wishing I had added on the extra week for Ireland. The kids did so well, I think we could have made it 3 and 1/2 weeks. But, when I was jjkoplanning The Captain convinced me it would be a nightmare to push forward. Better safe than sorry. If the kids had been more difficult or enjoyed the trip less and extra week could easily have been a bridge too far. Plus, this way, maybe some day we will do a trip to Ireland and Scotland… you never can tell.

We had a long, but direct flight from Manchester, UK straight to Las Vegas. Bags were packed— including the kids back packs (and yes they were re-filled with goodies and treats!) Car drop off was okay, although it finally started to rain on way out of town. But really, the last day there… who can complain!

Again, Virgin Atlantic saved us as the kids mainly watched the TV’s in front of them. Although, they did dive into some of the treasures I had for them. We kept them for the bulk of the time on the plane and when we finally landed, Queen Gram was at the airport to meet us.

Coming off the jet lag took about 3 days, but that was fine. No school, no camp, just hanging out and getting used to being home! But, don’t worry we won’t be home for long this summer— stay tuned… more adventures await.


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Salisbury, Lacock and Bath: Mom Camp Day 17

We woke up in Salisbury and made straight for the cathedral. It came recommended by a facebook friend and boy was she right! Salisbury Cathedral turned out to be one of The Captain’s favorite places on the trip.

If you are worried the cathedral doesn’t have a William Marshal contention, fear not it’s got plenty:

  • His cousin by marriage, William Longspee is buried there.
    2014 06 10_England 2014_0351_edited-1

    William Longspee’s Tomb

    Longspee also happened to be the illegitimate son of King Henry II and Ida de Tosney.  Later Ida went on to marry Earl Bigod and their son married William Marshal’s oldest daughter—  you got all that right?

  • One of the best preserved original copies of the Magna Carta is kept here. And, you know William Marhsal and William Longspee played a major role in the negotiation of the Magna Carta.

SalisburyIn addition to such wonderful history related to The Marshal, the building itself is truly a wonder.  Unlike Winchester Cathedral, the spire at Salisbury seems to shoot straight into the sky and reach for the clouds.  In the middle ages when most the buildings were wood, this amazing structure certainly proclaimed the wonder of god.

2014 06 10_England 2014_0343

2014 06 10_England 2014_0339The inside is quite dramatic, as well.


After finishing with the cathedral and a glimpse of the Magna Carta, we drove on to Lacock Abbey.

Again, you may wonder what is the connection to William Marshal?  His cousin founded the Abbey after her husband, William Longspee died.  So again we have found a connection–its Medieval Kevin Bacon.

The village of Lacock was very cute and the kids had a nice time walking around.  We stopped for lunch at a little pub and visited the town’s small church.  The village was also used as a filming location for one of the Harry Potter movies–the kids liked that of course.

Then it was back in the car for the drive to Bath…

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Mom Camp Goes Sideways: Day 9

Even the best planning can be undermined by good ol’ public transit. Our third day in London, the Tube’s Green line stopped working and our plans to head off to Hampton Court via Wimbledon were ruined! This sent me running sideways to figure out our next plan.

Going with the flow, we hopped a cab to Southwark to see the new Globe. Meanwhile the kids were holding a hunger strike because they didn’t like any of the British food. Priority number one was finding lunch. Based on their love of breakfast we opted to have breakfast for lunch– which satisfied my wild beasts for the time being.

MBridgeSadly, by the time we got to the Globe, the tours for the day were over! Ugh. I however, paid too much for the airplane tickets to be defeated so easily!

Pulling a page from the Harry Potter movies, I took the kids across Millenium Bridge.

Once across the bridge we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  I’ve been to England four times before this trip and not once did I ever make it to St. Paul’s.  I am rather surprised I never checked out the dome before.  I love a dome–St. Peter’s in Rome, The US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Haigia Sophia Dome in Istanbul.dome

We all went in and headed straight to the Whispering Gallery.  It is located about half-way up the dome and you can whisper on one side of the gallery and be heard on the other side.  I resorted to asking a guard exactly how it worked because we had a little trouble figuring it out on our own.  Once we got if figured it out, the kids really had fun playing with acoustics over an over.

We kept climbing the dome and made it to the first outdoor level.  I tried to get Cinco to climb all the way to the top, but it wasn’t for him.  He stayed on level 2 with Queen Gram and The Princess and I went to the top!  She started to get nervous as the stairs got tighter and higher, but she made it.  Only 5 years old and she made it.  We took a few cute pictures and headed back down to Cinco.

London StoneBefore we left for England, Cinco and I studied some of the foundation myths of London.  One dated back to the story of Aeneas.  One of his sailors, Brutus, founded the city and this is the foundation stone. It’s in the old city and we walked by after the Cathedral.

Then it was off to bed!

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London’s Natural History Museum: Mom Camp Day 7


Our second day in London was spent at the famous Natural History Museum. We arrived and went straight to the dino exhibit.  It fills up fast and I wanted the kids to get a good view of everything!

Pictures by Cinco!

Pictures by Cinco!

Cinco and The Princess LOVED it! Cinco even asked to borrow my phone and used it to take photo’s of the dino bones. I think he must have taken over 100 photos. Everything was interesting to him and everything needed to be examined and documented.

At the end of the dino exhibit is an animatronic T-Rex. Everyone bottle necks in the room and watches it for quite sometime. What was rather funny about the T-Rex, is that our local Natural History Museum in Las Vegas has an almost identical T-Rex. We went all the way to London and stood in a big crowd to see something we could see at home any old time… haha..20140617-131835.jpg

We got one of the explorer backpacks for kids from the main desk. Our was about Mammals.20140617-150047.jpg Based on clues in the backpack, we had to play detective and figure out our mammal. The choice was quickly narrowed down to either a wolf or a bear. We had a claw, a set of teeth and a patch of fur. Cinco got it right off the bat and The Princess needed all three clues before she figured it was the polar bear.

Then it was time for another great museum lunch! The kids were less than happy.

Having read the Ashton Place novels–particularly the third one (Review Available Here)–, the kids were very interested in the birds. The were most interested in the ostreages and dodos which are prominently featured in books 3 and 4. We made it to the bird area and everything was going well. We saw the dodo and the ostreages.

Then things took a turn for the worse…we happened upon a series of glass cases displaying only the bird’s head– mainly humming birds. This did NOT sit well with The Princess. She quickly figured out that these little creatures had been decapitated in LARGE numbers. There was no crying but rather an uncomfortable horror at the notion that anyone would think cutting the heads off these beings was acsetpable. I think it hit her hard because we have many humming birds that come to visit us in out backyard and they are very small and rather harmless.

After hightailing it out of there, we explored the museum’s amazing earth science section. The area is accessed through an escalator that goes into a structure meant to be the center of the earth. This was somewhat unsettling for the kids after the bird experience. By the time we reached the earthquake none of the kids would do the simulation. So, I went ahead and did it without them! It lasts a lot longer than I thought it would.

The Princess never really recovered from the bird incedent so we left the museum and went out into the nature garden behind the building. The weather we lovely and the museum was sponsoring a Ladybug hunt. Amazingly, we found quite a few. Most of them were young bugs that had not transformed into the bright red, spotted bugs we all know and love.





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FLYING FUN with Mom Camp Day 5

Yes, I am counting the flight and the airport time as two separate days. I mean come on, it’s an international flight and keeping the kids together (figuratively, not literally is challenging!) on the flight is enough to turn any mom’s hair gray.

First of all, I cheated! I bought tickets on Virgin Atlantic. It’s more expensive, but the inflight entertainment is totally worth it. Each person gets a choice of movies and games to keep them occupied. Frozen and the Lego Movie hurrah! And, Virgin even offers special kid friendly meals. Not that anyone loves airplane food.

Kid stuff

Girl’s Pack


Boy’s Pack

Second, I am going with the old standby toys. Each one has a backpack filled with little items. There is one item per hour per child— a lot of stuff.

A few things are from the dollar store, but a lot of the things are print outs from the internet about England:


  • PaperToys.com has a ton of stuff. Why not print out a double-decker bus? Big Ben? Shakespeare’s Globe? I had to cut out the patterns before we got on the plane to avoid the TSA scissor issue (although I hear now you can bring tiny scissors with you). I also packed glue stick for the kids so they can glue the paper crafts together and crayons.


  • Practical Pages offers tons of adorable paper dolls and period costumes for boys and girls. You can find Romans, Vikings, women from the Georgian period, and Elizabethans.


  • The Official Page for Hampton Court offers printable hats and hoods from the Tudor period for boys and girls. I printed them on card stock. I packed a few stick on gems to go with this craft so the kids could really bling out their creations. I mean, that is how King Henry VIII would have wanted it, right?

Third, snacks. I know, chips and candy aren’t the best food in the world. But hey, it’s a vacation!


Fourth, I did not forget the disposable tooth brushes with toothpaste already applied on them. I have fuzzy socks and sleep masks for both kids. Cinco even got a mask with Zombie eyes on it. So fun…

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Mom Camp Day 4: At the Airport

With a 10+ hour flight from Las Vegas to London, Mom Camp’s fearless leader, ME, had to get creative.

Before even getting on the plane, we needed to get the airport 2.5 hours early for an international flight. After check-in and such, we had time to kill. I decided we needed to have a few games for our downtime at the airport. These games needed to involve full body movement without bugging the heck of everyone else waiting for their airplane.

  • Simon Says: This is always a good one to pull out of your pocket when you have a little space and little time to kill. I had the kids do things such as marching in place, turning in a circle, jumping jacks and just plan old jumping up and down.


  • A few choruses of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: I know Cinco is a bit old for the song but The Princess is still a perfect age for it and well, he joined in because she was doing it. One word of advise….make sure the kids sing it in a whisper.


  • Airport Scavenger Hunt: This one required Queen Gram to watch the bags, b/c heaven knows I am not toting a round a bunch of carry luggage as we comb through the airport looking for things. This is another good time killer that gets the kids up and moving. Try The Game Gal’s Hunt. It’s easy for littler kids or as she suggests, you can modify the items to make them more specific and a tougher for older kids.

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